The following is a preview with betting tips for the 2015 Rugby World Cup quarter-final clash between New Zealand and France. More details, including team sheets, will be added as they become available.
Note that the majority of this content is sourced from our 2015 Rugby World Cup Form Guides, Previews & Tips page.
New Zealand vs. France
Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
October 18, 2015
Kick-off at 6:00 AM
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
New Zealand squad: 1. Wyatt Crockett, 2. Dane Coles, 3. Owen Franks, 4. Brodie Retallick, 5. Sam Whitelock, 6. Jerome Kaino, 7. Richie McCaw (captain), 8. Kieran Read, 9. Aaron Smith, 10. Daniel Carter, 11. Julian Savea, 12. Ma’a Nonu, 13. Conrad Smith, 14. Nehe Milner-Skudder, 15. Ben Smith. Replacements: 16. Keven Mealamu, 17. Joe Moody, 18. Charlie Faumuina, 19. Victor Vito, 20. Sam Cane, 21. Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 22. Beauden Barrett, 23. Sonny Bill Williams
France squad: 1. Eddy Ben Arous, 2. Guilhem Guirado, 3. Rabah Slimani, 4. Pascal Pape, 5. Yoann Maestri, 6. Thierry Dusautoir (captain), 7. Bernard Le Roux, 8. Louis Picamoles, 9. Morgan Parra, 10. Frederic Michalak, 11. Brice Dulin, 12. Wesley Fofana, 13. Alexandre Dumoulin, 14. Noa Nakaitaci, 15. Scott Spedding. Replacements: 16. Dimitri Szarzewski, 17. Vincent Debaty, 18. Nicolas Mas, 19. Damien Chouly, 20. Yannick Nyanga, 21. Rory Kockott, 22. Remi Tales, 23. Mathieu Bastareaud
Preview: New Zealand’s campaign thus far can be summed up by the fact that many pundits’ “Pool Stage XVs” have no All Blacks in them. There have been glimpses of what they’re capable of (the last 30 minutes against Tonga, for example), however they have yet to come close to putting together the type of performance that saw them beat the Wallabies 41-13 at Eden Park in August.
Despite the stuttering performances, the All Blacks have remained the firm favourites to win the tournament, with their odds holding firm at around the 2.15-2.25 mark. My fear for them, however, is the fact that they’ve selected a number of players based on previous years’ form. It’s telling that the Highlanders had a fantastic title-winning Super Rugby campaign but not one of their forwards were considered for even the extended All Blacks training squad. The Crusaders and Blues, meanwhile both missed out on the playoffs with many of their star players almost anonymous this Super Rugby campaign, and yet those players still get regular starts for the All Blacks.
Holding the number one world ranking coming into this tournament may prove to be New Zealand’s undoing. Team management would have felt pressured to stick with a formula that has won in previous years rather than chance their arm with more un-capped players who had stellar Super Rugby campaigns. Yes, Waisake Naholo and Nehe Milner-Skudder have been given rightful debuts this World Cup, but there are numerous other names like Ardie Savea and Elliot Dixon who outshone many of their All Blacks counterparts this season but remain at home in New Zealand. If New Zealand do fall short this World Cup, I wouldn’t be surprised if team selection comes to the forefront in the media across the Tasman.
France enter this fixture on the back of an insipid performance against Ireland. Yes, they tackled and defended well, but they looked devoid of creativity in the backs and never looked like threatening the try line.
It is this type of performance, however, that will have New Zealand rugby fans nervous because the French are a notoriously mercurial side who tend to play at their best when they take on the All Blacks. A classic example was the 2011 World Cup when France lost 17-37 to New Zealand in the Pool stage and also lost to Tonga, only to reach the final and just lose 7-8 to the All Blacks. New Zealand and French rugby fans will also be very aware of the 2007 World Cup at this very venue (Millennium Stadium), when France upset New Zealand 20-18 to knock them out of the tournament. Prior to that fixture the All Blacks were unbeaten in their last nine fixture against Les Bleus, with their previous loss coming back in 2000. France were also the team that knocked New Zealand out of the 1999 World Cup – their first victory over New Zealand in four years. France now enter this fixture on the back of an eight-game losing streak to New Zealand that spans six years, so All Blacks fans will be wary of history repeating itself once again.
In the All Blacks’ favour is the fact that they’ve had 48 hours more rest than France going into this quarter final. They will also be pleased to hear that English referee Wayne Barnes won’t be officiating this fixture! Having said that the All Blacks have grown immensely since 2007 when they were caught without a plan B. There will also be no complacency this time round. They will just have to hope the French don’t find some miraculous gear out of nowhere like in previous World Cups.
Betting: The All Blacks should be too strong but I expect France to but in a much stronger performance than their insipid effort against Ireland. Given the All Blacks’ atrocious line record in this World Cup I would back France at the line. For a bit more risk & reward, you can back New Zealand 1-12 at 2.96 (Pinnacle Sports)
Betting tip: back France +12.5 in the Line market at 2.03 (Pinnacle Sports)
Since this article was published (Thu) it is being reported (Fri) that France have sacked coach Philippe Saint-Andre after a mutiny by the players against him. The players are now operating under “self-management”. The report from L’Obs Sport is that the players viewed coach Saint-Andre “as a good guy, as a former great player but not as a leader of men. Some go for the match against the All Blacks with lead feet, already beaten.”
This is nothing new for French sport. In the 2011 Rugby World Cup coach Marc Lievremont was ignored by his team following the pool stage loss to Tonga, while in the 2010 FIFA World Cup the French football team rebelled against Raymond Domenech.
Who knows how things will play out but given the turmoil in the French camp? France did reach the 2011 final despite the backroom turmoil and shambolic Pool loss to Tonga. At the same time, however, the 2010 FIFA World Cup campaign turned out to be a disaster, with France finishing bottom of their Group.
At the time of writing the odds haven’t shifted since the announcement, with the line holding at +12.5 for France. That may well change as punters and bookmakers have time to digest the news.
Form Guide: New Zealand
|2015-10-10||New Zealand vs. Tonga||Win||47-9|
|2015-10-03||New Zealand vs. Georgia||Win||43-10|
|2015-09-25||New Zealand vs. Namibia||Win||58-14|
|2015-09-21||New Zealand vs. Argentina||Win||26-16|
|2015-08-15||New Zealand vs. Australia||Win||41-13|
|2015-08-08||Australia vs. New Zealand||Loss||27-19|
|2015-07-25||South Africa vs. New Zealand||Win||20-27|
|2015-07-17||New Zealand vs. Argentina||Win||39-18|
Form Guide: France
|2015-10-12||France vs. Ireland||Loss||9-24|
|2015-10-02||France vs. Canada||Win||41-18|
|2015-09-24||France vs. Romania||Win||38-11|
|2015-09-20||France vs. Italy||Win||32-10|
|2015-09-05||France vs. Scotland||Win||19-16|
|2015-08-22||France vs. England||Win||25-20|
|2015-08-15||England vs. France||Loss||19-14|
|2015-03-21||England vs. France||Loss||55-35|
H2H Guide: New Zealand vs. France
|2013-11-09||France vs. New Zealand||19-26|
|2013-06-22||New Zealand vs. France||24-9|
|2013-06-15||New Zealand vs. France||30-0|
|2013-06-08||New Zealand vs. France||23-13|
|2011-10-23||France vs. New Zealand||7-8|
|2011-09-24||New Zealand vs. France||37-17|
Note: only league games are included. The above does not include preseason and cup fixtures.
|Team||Market||Last 6||Last 12||Last 18|
The above figures represent the net profit from wagering $1.00 on the associated selection each game.